Reducingdrunk Driving in the State Of Tennessee
Datafrom the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization shows that thestatewide average number of deaths (by age group) related to alcoholin Tennessee is higher than the national rate. Also, the state has avery high number of repeat offenders. Over 60,000 individuals havebeen arrested more than three times for driving while intoxicated("MADD – Tennessee", 2016). This situation means that thestate needs urgent remedies to solve the problem of people drivingafter drinking. According to Hingson and Rehm (2013), deathsattributed to alcohol outnumber those caused by chronic diseases by9,000.
Racineet al. (2015) note that excessive drinking results in addiction andcause numerous diseases such as cirrhosis, obesity, and hepatitis.Also, it leads to social problems such as the development of stigmaagainst the drinker, unplanned pregnancies, and school dropouts amongteenagers. Fell and Lacey (2011) note that laws pertaining to drivingunder the influence need to be stricter. Chang, Wu, and Ying (2012)confirm that stringent laws do reduce alcohol-related accidents.Further, Wagoner et al. (2012) advice that involving the community isparamount in fighting the vice. Chriqui, O’Connor, and Chaloupka(2011) show that conducting proper research and evaluation of publichealth laws is better than creating uninformed laws.
First,the State of Tennessee should enact stiffer legal penalties onindividuals who drive while under the influence of alcohol. Tennesseehas one of the most progressive forms of a legislature that touch ondrunk driving. For instance, it has given its courts the authority touse drug patches and alcohol anklets on criminal offenders (Brown,2014). However, such laws need to be stricter to deter such carelessforms of crime. The State of Tennessee should also consider raisingthe minimum legal drinking age from 21 (“Injury Prevention &Control: Motor Vehicle Safety,” 2016). Research by Ying, Wu, andChang (2013) shows that raising the drinking age results correspondswith a decrease in the number of related traffic accidents.
Inline with legislative changes, the State of Tennessee should lowerthe legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels that warrant thearrest of a person. By reducing the legal BAC level, the state ofTennessee will deter incidences of people driving after they havetaken alcohol (“Injury Prevention & Control: Motor VehicleSafety,” 2016). A study by Killoran et al. (2010) shows thatlimiting the BAC level results in a drop in the number ofdrunk-driving incidences. A majority of the individuals who arearrested for driving while drunk usually have the feeling that theyare reasonably sober. Therefore, by limiting the amount of alcoholthat people can consume and drive (from 0.08 to 0.05 BAC), the statewill deter many citizens from driving after consuming significantamounts of alcohol.
Secondly,the State of Tennessee should make use of technological advancements.The state’s authorities should make it mandatory for vehiclesoperating within the state to have ignition interlocks. These deviceswill conduct tests on the driver’s breath to determine their bloodalcohol level. If the driver’s BAC level is above the ignitioninterlocks’ limit, then it will cut power to the engine. Astatewide implementation may prove challenging (“Injury Prevention& Control: Motor Vehicle Safety,” 2016). However, it should bemandatory for people who have ever been arrested for trafficincidences caused by their irresponsible alcohol consumption. Elderet al. (2011) study the impact of the use of ignition interlocks incontaining alcohol-related incidences. Their research shows thatignition locks have minimal influence when it comes to reducingalcohol-related crashes. However, data indicates that it deters manyof the potential repeat offenders from being arrested for drivingunder the influence.
Thirdly,Tennessee authorities should engage the community to prevent drunkdriving at the source. Various agencies such as the police can set upcommunity initiatives to educate the masses on the dangers ofdrinking and then driving. Members of the society can report peoplewho engage in careless alcohol-related actions so that such peoplecan get timely treatment or punishment. Also, the State of Tennesseeshould target the public through mass media campaigns that appeal tothe people’s logic and emotions. For instance, adverts by theMothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) organization contain real lifestories by victims and the people who have been affected by drunkdriving. According to AdCouncil the rise in the number of advertscondemning instances of drunk driving have had a significantinfluence on alcohol-related accidents. The organization adds that in2005, 13,500 people died on the road but thanks to their mass mediacampaigns the number dropped to 11,000 in 2009. (Gunter et al., 2010“Drunk Driving Prevention and The Effectiveness of MediaCampaigns,” 2013).
Accordingto Sergeant Travis Blankenship of Franklin County getting people tofrown upon drinking and driving is a challenge. Many people associatealcohol with fun activities. In similar fashion, people do not seedrinking alcohol and driving as being a risky behavior. Becausealcohol impairs judgment, most users develop a false sense ofsecurity and comfort. As such, they fail to realize just how drunkthey are. People need to develop a sense of fear of being arrested.Else, they will ignore the repercussions. Solutions to that problemcould include encouraging people to make use of their friends asdesignated drivers and sensitizing people on the stiff penaltiesinvolved (Hackbarth, 2011). Also, the State of Tennessee could makeit mandatory for persons leaving pubs to use taxis. Additionally, thestate could partner with pub owners to place creative messages (thatappeal to logic and emotion) in strategic points that are in thedrinkers’ line of sight.
Further,Blankenship adds that it is hard for law enforcement agencies toprosecute offenders who drive under the influence since nowadaystestimonies by police are not enough. Also, perpetrators hire lawyerswho look for technicalities within the cases. At times, the cases aredismissed due to typing errors made by the arresting office. Thismeans that officers have to spend a lot of time filling gaps withinwhat seems like a clear case instead of providing evidence in court.Police also find themselves in court being questioned by lawyers whoseek to prove that the officer made a mistake in the arrest(Hackbarth, 2011). Law enforcement agencies should develop and traintheir officers on proper storage and use of the various alcohol testkits to prevent issues of technicalities from arising in thecourtroom.
Accordingto Lerner (2013), many people do not own up to their mistakes.Rather, they develop excuses for their actions. For instance, peoplesay that they are using legal medication that made them intoxicatedor that they were unknowingly drugged. Other individuals question theauthenticity of the breath and blood tests by saying that theequipment was poorly stored or the equipment was not well calibrated.Furthermore, there are those people who are against stricter BAClevels because they believe that such restrictions will hurt theeconomy since many pubs will lose customers. Such people need to bereminded that the economy risks losing even more money through thedeaths of productive citizens.
Also,while organizations like MADD develop advertisements to woo peopleaway from alcohol, the alcohol industry spends even more money toshow people and especially the youth that alcohol is appealing. 2013statistics indicate that the alcohol industry spent over 2.05 billiondollars in mass media advertisements ("Alcohol industry: U.S. adspend by medium 2013 | Statistic", 2016). To counter the impactof such adverts, agencies such as MADD should market adverts thatshow the outcomes of irresponsible drinking. For example, they couldpartner with police, firemen or renowned actors reenact the processof retrieving victims from a crash site. People need to be scared ofdriving under the influence.
Manydeaths are caused by people who drive after drinking. It is importantfor individuals to comprehend that driving while under the influenceof liquor is a social problem that has to be condemned. The State ofTennessee should develop stricter legal measures that aim at reducingthe legal blood alcohol levels and enforcing tougher penalties onoffenders. The community’s members should not be left out of suchefforts since they are the people who are affected most by incidencesof drunk driving. Further research on the challenges facing theefforts to curb incidences of alcohol-related accidents is needed todevelop adequate solutions.
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